Glossary Entry: Match 3

Quick Definition

This is a popular subgenre of Puzzle games where you're presented with a grid filled with objects (usually tiles, gems, or symbols), and your task is to clear these objects from the grid by selecting them in groups of three or more.

Although it isn't the franchise that created the genre, the Bejeweled series is usually credited with bring the genre to the public's attention.

Also, due to the simplicity of these games, it's somewhat common to find a Match 3 puzzle used as a minigame.

More Details

Match 3 games vary in exactly how they handle their mechanics. The three most common variants are explained below.

Swap-type Match 3s

This is the most common variant, and it's the style seen in Bejeweled. In this style of game, you exchange tiles to create groups of three or more of the same tile in a row or column. Once the group is created, it is cleared from the grid.

Typically, you can only swap tiles that are immediately adjacent, and only if this creates a group of three or more. However, there are games like 10,000,000 that have you create matches by moving entire rows or columns at a time instead of a single tile.
Chain-type Match 3s

In this variation, the player strings together large groups of identical tiles by chaining them together. To start a chain, they click on the first tile and hold the button down as they drag the mouse cursor over the rest of the group. Once they release the button, the chain ends and the tiles are removed.
Pop-type Match 3s
Also known as "collapse" puzzles, this variant has the player select any single tile. If this tile is part of a group of three or more identical tiles, the entire group is removed and the grid is shifted to fill in the new gap.

This is also the least popular of the three ways to play a Match 3, so don't expect to see it very often.

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